Sister Jane was born August 2nd, 1936 to Lavina (Kranz) Heckathorn and Leonard T. Heckathorn in Watertown, SD; she had 2 sisters and 1 brother. She graduated from Watertown High School in 1954. After studies at the University of Minnesota and Minneapolis General Hospital, Sister Jane returned to South Dakota and worked as an x-ray technician for seven years before entering Maryknoll.
Sister Jane entered the Congregation at their Novitiate in Valley Park, MO October 18th, 1963. She pronounced First Vows June 24th, 1966 in Valley Park and Final Vows April 9th, 1975 in the Philippines.
Sister Jane’s first assignment was to the Philippines where she became involved in health services in Manila and in the southern provincial area of Cotabato. She earned a degree in Social Work from the Centro Escolar University in Manila to prepare for social and community development work in Upi, Cotabato with a diverse population of Muslims, Christians and native tribes. Working in the mountains with the Tiruray tribe, she trained teachers and helped organize educational programs in agriculture, medicine, para-medics and child care. During a time of violence, her work became mainly resettlement and maintenance of the displaced persons. She helped organize a team who were able to take over this work when she left the Philippines.
Returning to the States in 1979, she worked for 4 years on a team of Maryknoll Sisters in Mission Education and World Awareness Programs in the schools and churches of the Western U.S. In 1984, Sister Jane was assigned to the Western U.S. Region. She accepted the job of executive producer of “Video Edition,” a weekly television news magazine of the Oakland diocesan newspaper, The Catholic Voice. It was a source of ethical analysis of current events and issues. Sister Jane received awards for two of her programs. Video Edition aired its final program in 1987 due to lack of funds.
Sister Jane continued working in Oakland as a social worker and counselor in Casa Vicentia, a home for single pregnant women in crisis, and was Editor-in-Chief of “Casa Communique,” the quarterly newsletter. She worked on the administrative staff of Sophia Institute, a graduate program in Culture and Spirituality at Holy Names University. In 2011, Sister Jane retired continuing to reside in The Maryknoll Sisters’ Western Region in California.